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Math Research Karan Sheth

Period 5 5/11/13
Math Research Final Paper: What is pi?
Now weve all heard of pi, from using it to solve the area of a circle or using it to square
a circle, yet do you know this history behind pi? pi, or is the representation of the ratio of the
circumference of a circle to its diameter, but who would be honored with its discovery?
Throughout the history of known mathematics, thousands of mathematicians have
attempted to find an approximation to the number behind the symbol, but only a few have
succeeded. The last known approximation of pi took place in Tokyo, by Professor Yasumasa
Kanada and other mathematicians. They calculated pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places, through a
supercomputer, but is there another way to approximate pi?
Some view as 3.14, others as

but where did it all begin? The approximation of pi


dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. Though they were quite intelligent during their time period,
they had not discovered an approximation to . The focus of the Ancient Egyptians wasnt to
discover pi, but to find the area of a circle, and in doing so, an approximation of pi was
discovered. They constructed a square with a side whose length is eighth ninths of the diameter
of the circle, with a squares area will be equal to that of the circle. The mathematicians in
ancient Egypt approximated the area of a circle by a square according to the rule that to get the
side of a square, one must shorten the diameter of a circle by 1/9 in order to find the area.
Therefore, they used 1 as the diameter and 8/9 as the side of a square, which is just

It
was the effort to construct a square with an area equal to that of a given circle that produced an
approximation of pi, however, they did know what they had just discovered. Let us try to find a
rather close approximation of pi using their calculations.

Today, we already know that: (


The area of the square is simply(

.
Since the Egyptians assumed these to be equal, we get the following equation:


Through simple cross multiplication


Back then they solved this out without , they hadnt known what they had just
discovered!
Soon follows Archimedes, one of the greatest contributors in the early history of
mathematics. In one of his proofs, he discovered a formula of the area of a circle. He
states: The area of a circle is equal to that of a right triangle when the legs of the right
triangle are respectively equal to the radius and circumference of the circle. Archimedes
D/2 8D/9
does that because in doing so, through simple multiplication, he discovers that there is
another variable in order to find the area of the circle and triangle, .

Using the formula for the area of a triangle,

()

, which is also the area of the


circle.
Although Archimedes stated this in a somewhat convoluted way, it is amazing how in
that time of age he discovered what few people knew. Archimedes stated also stated that: The
ratio of the area of a circle to that of a square with side equal to the circles diameter is close to
11:14. For this, here is a ratio I set up through diagrams.

The area of the circle:


r
r
2 r
r
2r
2r
The area of the square: 4r
2

When we simplify this proportion we get



Archimedes was also the one who once stated the circumference of a circle is less than

How Archimedes came up with


this conclusion was by inscribing a regular hexagon in a given circle and circumscribe a regular
hexagon about this same circle. He was able to find the areas of the two hexagons and then knew
that the area of the circle had in somewhere in between.
He then repeated this with regular dodecagons and again
calculated the area of each under twenty-four sided
polygons, forty-eight sided polygons, and even ninety-
six sided polygons. Archimedes finally concluded that
the value of


Therefore, since

we can all now see how


well Archimedes placed the value of .
In the passing years, the approximations became ever closer to the value of , so that in
200 BCE, Apollonius, a creat competitor discovered an even better approximation of thank
Archimedes:

.

Archimedes calculated an approximation of pi by
only inscribing polygons, which was much trickier
than inscribing and circumscribing.

First, Archimedes formed a circle and inscribed a
regular hexagon, and let AB be the diameter of a
circle. Next, he connected points A and C, and
forms , which was equal to

of a right
triangle. Next, he joined BC. meeting the circle at C make the angle CAB equal to one third of a
right angle. Join BC. Through proprtions of a 30:60:90 right triangle (a right triangle inscribed
of a circle is a right triangle), AC:CB= . Since AC:CB= , to make this much simpler,
lets just say AC=, CB= and AB=1560. Archimedes chose these numbers because as
we go on, he discovered that it will help him understand the results of his calculations.
Since we know that the diameter, AB, to one side of the hexagon, CB, is 2:1, he
estimated pi to be approximately 6/2, or 3.
Next, Archimedes bisected angle BAC with segment AD, where D is the midpoint of
, and d was the instersection of AD and BC. Then he joined segment BD. He then formed
Thus, triangles ADB and BDd
are similar. Therefore through proportions of similar triangles,

.
Now lets say that the length of BC is 780. Through simple division, AC:CB ( ) is
slightly less than 1351:780, while BA:BC = 2:1 = 1560:780
Through angle bisection, we know that <DAB=<DAC=15. Therefore, using the tangent
formula towards <DBA (which is 75), AD:DB < 2911 : 780
Thus AB:BD < . This is enough to give us our estimate for the 12 sided
inscribed polygons. Because AB is the hypotenuse of right triangle ABD, AB:DB less than the
calculated value

and ()

Archimedes then bisects with AE to get the 24 sided ratios.

giving the 24 sided case estimate: () .


Similarly 48 side case:
A

As you keep bisecting the angles and setting up


these proportions, your approximation of will constantly get closer.
In the 17
th
century, James Gregory discovered a formula for the approximation of pi
through a series of converges:

This was a rough approximation,


since the series converges very slowly. It would take one hundred thousand terms to get the first
five places accuracy of .
One of the most significant methods in discovering an approximation of is through
using arctan. Arctan is used to find the angle measure of the tangent (in a right triangle).
Therefore, if tan(x)=1, then arctan(1)=45.
James Gregory, a math mathematician in the 17
th
century wrote discovered a formula for
calculating the angle given the tangent t for angles up to 45.
arctan( t ) = t
t
3

+
t
5


t
7

+
t
9

...


3

5

7

9
Using this formula, you can get quite a close approximation of pi:
The formula:

was
first discovered by Madhava, was later resembled by
Gregory and Leibniz. One of their examples of the
arctangent series is:
()


How to get this is quite simple: First, form a circle
with any radius. Then, with that radius, form a
tangent like to that circle that is equal to the length of
the radius. With that done, connect the center to the end point of the tangent line that is not the
point of contact. Since we know that a line that is tangent to a circle forms a right angle with the
radius at the point of contact, and that the length of the legs are congruent, you know that the
other two angles are congruent, and therefore they are 45 angles. Therefore, if you do tangent of
the sides, since its a 45-45-90 right triangle, it will be 1, and arctan (1)= 45. To find the area of
the arc, you must first find the circumference, which is 2 because we had made the radius 1. To
find the length of the arc, you must divide the circumference by 8 because the central angle of
the arc is 45, which is multiplied 8 times to get 360. Therefore, the length of arc is must be


Therefore, since

is the length of the arc, () , but only in radians. And so,

. To find , just through simple multiplication,


(

)
If you want to another approximation of , you can use the same formula.

Make the radius of the circle 1, then the tangent line must be equal to

. Therefore, the
circumference is 2, and since the central angle is 30, the arc that is intersected by the central
angle is

of the circumference, therefore

. Finally, we know that


(

So

)

Another interesting method of approximating pi is using the counting squares method.
Lets form circle with radius r=8.
mCAB = 30.00
C
A B
D
First, form a circle, with a tangent line that
intersects the circle at the point of contact,
in which is also attached to the radius.
Following the same steps as the previous
example, however the side opposite the
central angle (30) is equal to half of the
hypotenuse since the triangle is a 30-60-90
right triangle.
By the known method, we get: Area=


There is also a way to approximate the value of pi by counting squares. To determine the
area of the circle we can cover it with a lattice of squares, where the length of each square is 1.
We would also have to count the number of squares (a) in the interior of the circle, and then we
will count the number of squares (b) that are intersected by the circles circumference.


A method used by German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss suggests you can
discover an approximation of by counting the number of lattice points of the square lattice in
the interior of the circle. He determined that if () represents the number of lattice points that
line in the circlular area with the radius r, then we get an approximation for :
Approximation value: Area of the circle


which is close to the actual 201 found by the
formula. This leads to as follows: The approximate area of
the circle is 194. This should be equal to

, so that
This gives a value for

The
approximation of becomes even closer when a larger
number of square is used.
With radius r=10, the area of the circle=

.
Approximate value: Area of circle


, which is closer to the "actual value, 314, as determined
by the formula above. Again, Area of circle=310=10
2
=100.
Thus,

, which compares favorably to the


previous approximation.


()


There is a formula for finding (), and here is an example:
()


()


It appears that this sequence head for the actual value of , 3.141592
For r=20, we already get the correct second place after the decimal point, and as the
numbers increase, the closer we get to the true digits of .

He started by forming a square (a 4-gon), which we will call the perimeter as P
4.
Since
each side of the square is a
4
= , then P
4
=
4
= 2. Considering that the inscribed circle with
circumference C
in
and the circumscribed circle with circumference C
circum
of the square pictured
above. The radius of the inscribed circle is:
h
4
=


The radius of the circumscribed circle is:
In 1450, Cusanus created a given
regular polygon with a fixed
perimeter of 2 with inscribed and
circumscribed circles. He used a
sequence of n-gons (n=4, 8, 16,
32).
R
4
=


We can see what Cusanus noticed, that the perimeter of the square is somewhere between
the circumference of the two circles, so we can compare the perimeter, P
4
, and the two
circumferences, C
in
and C
circum
, to get:
C
in
< P
4
< C
circum
or 2h
4
< 2 < 2r
4
h
4
< 1 < r
4

Dividing everything by pi results in: h
4
<

< r
4

Then, he took the reciprocal values of each of the term, which reverses the inequality:


Since r
4
=

, it follow that

. Therefore 2.83 < < , a rather


rough approximation to the value of . However, Cusanus noticed that as he increased the
number of sides of the regular polygon, the estimates should get better.
The next approximation was done by
doubling the number of sides, which
would lead to an octagon (8-gon)
with h
8
as the radius of the inscribed
circle with radius C
in
and r
8
as the
radius of the circumscribed circle
with circumference C
circum.
Sine each
side is a
8
=

, the perimeter, p
8
, of the
regular 8-gon is p
8=

*
a
8
= 2.
Because <ABM connects an
inscribed angle from one endpoint of
the diameter to the radius, it bisects
the angle. The
measure of <ACM is a right angle
because an angle inscribed in a
semicircle is a right angle (semicircle
contains radius AM), therefore
<AMC=22.5.
This can be transformed into the following equation:

()

()

.
With the Pythagorean theorem, r
8
2
=h
8
2
+(

, we get r
8
=


For the perimeter, P
8,
and the circumferences, C
in
and C
circum
, we get C
in
< P
8
< C
circum
or 2h
8
< 2 < 2r
8
h
8
< 1 < r
8

Dividing everything by pi results in: h
8
<

< r
8

Then, he took the reciprocal values of each of the term, which reverses the inequality:


This means for the reciprocal values:

And also,

( )
Therefore, he discovered that must range between:
By observing the previous formulas, you can notice:

.
In this way one can generalize nested intervals for , if one iteratively determines the
radii of the inscribed and circumscribed circles with increasing numbers of sides of the regular n-
gon (with perimeter = 2).
After observing these calculations, one can wonder how Cusanus got his iteration
method. Here is how he started:
Assume AB=a
n
, MA=MB=r
n
, and MH=h
n
.
After doubling the number of sides, we get a 2n-gon.
P becomes the midpoint of arc
AB, and both X and Y the midpoints of
sides AP and BP in the triangle ABP.
Therefore, XY=

.
XY is the side of the regular 2n-
gon with the perimeter 2, and the center
M.
Finally, that proves that
<P=MA=r
n
, MX=MT=r
2n
, and MQ=h
2n
.

Since Q is the midpoint of segment PH, we have h
2n
=

.
In right triangle MPX it follows that MX
2
= This may be written as r
2n
2
=r
n
*h
2n
,
which leads to: r
2n
=
To generate some of the rest of the n-gons, you can use the following formulas:
h
4
=

; r
4
=

You can use:

since:

.
When you increase the number of sides of the polygon, you can see a great connection
between these numbers, and even when you get to 32768-gon, one has achieved seven decimal
places of pi. This is one of many vast options to approximating pi to its limits!

And there you got it! has been around for centuries, and every second we are getting
closer to its true value. Hundreds of years ago, when they began to discover the significance of pi
and began to unravel its value, not only did they discover the digits of , but its value on other
subtopics. These are some of the many thousand methods of an approximation of the 18
th
letter
in the Greek alphabet, . Someone once said, somewhere in that infinite string of digits is the
name of every person you will ever love, the date, time, and manner of your death, and the
answers to all the great questions of the universe. All the information that ever existed or will
ever exist, the DNA of every being in the universe. Everything: all in the ratio of a circumference
and a diameter.
Work Cited
Web:
" Pi and the Fibonacci Numbers ." Mathematics - University of Surrey - Guildford. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 18 May 2013. <http://www.maths.surrey.ac.uk/hosted-
sites/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibpi.html>.
Beckmann, Petr. A history of [pi] (pi). 2d ed. Boulder, Colo.: Golem Press, 1971. Print.
"Euler's Approximation of pi. - Mathematics Stack Exchange." Mathematics Stack
Exchange. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013.
<http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/98046/eulers-approximation-of-pi>.
"How to compute arctan(1) ." Physics Help and Math Help - Physics Forums. N.p., n.d.
Web. 1 June 2013. <http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=146908>.
"Math Forum - Ask Dr. Math." The Math Forum @ Drexel University. N.p., n.d. Web.
20 May 2013. <http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52543.html>.
"ScienceDirect.com - Historia Mathematica - Quadrature of the circle in ancient Egypt."
ScienceDirect.com | Search through over 11 million science, health, medical journal full
text articles and books.. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 June 2013.
<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0315086077901045>.
Graphics, abandoning the, and the rational. "Archimedes Estimate of Pi." DelphiForFun
Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2013.
<http://www.delphiforfun.org/programs/Math_Topics/Archimedes_PI.htm>.
Books:
Beckmann, Petr. A history of [pi] (pi). 2d ed. Boulder, Colo.: Golem Press, 1971.
Print.
Posamentier, Alfred S., and Ingmar Lehmann. [Pi]: a biography of the world's most
mysterious number. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2004. Print.